Yet another HFGH report
Yet another Harbor Frieght greenhouse, for those who are interested. This is the 8 by 10 model.
First, a Google Sketchup model that I used to site the greenhouse. Sketchup is a great free 3-d CAD program that I've used for various projects. For a greenhouse it's particularly good because you can position things with GPS accuracy, and then see how the shadows fall at any time of any day. I have a good southern exposure, so I'll get about 7 hours of direct sun on the shortest day of the year.
And here's the completed greenhouse:
Assembly was not too bad. The instructions suck (as noted by many folks on this forum), so you spend a fair amount of time undoing and redoing various bits. Total assemby time was two weekends.
The frame is reasonably sturdy, and the tolerances are actually pretty good. The panels and panel attachments
less so. I did not do any elaborate modifications, except to caulk what I could with a marvelous sealant called Lexcel. This stuff sticks like crazy to Lexan; the panels have at least 2 glued edges, and I don't expect them to go anywhere in the kind of wind we get here.
The main thing is that even if the kit is inexpensive, there's a large investment in time and materials in site preparation and such.Given 4 days for prep and assembly, plus a couple of hundred bucks for materials that aren't in the kit, it isn't necessarily a good deal. I built a foundation/raised beds with redwood 4 by 4, which accounted for most of the additional cost. Even the most minimal installation will require about 8 cubic feet of crushed rock to secure the foundation.
I checked inside and outside temperatures once the panels were in place. On a rainiy day with heavy overcast, there was no solar gain at all. Once the skies cleared, the interior was about 10 degrees warmer than outside, so this should work great for the kind of winters we get here in the SF Bay area.